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Hodge backs Clarkson for coaching return

Hawthorn premiership legend Luke Hodge expects Alastair Clarkson to return to AFL coaching next year and believes Gold Coast would be an ideal fit.

The four-time Hawks premiership coach has been busy in his gap year, doing everything from spending time with NBA powerhouse Golden State to researching for Tasmania’s bid to become the AFL’s 19th club.

Clarkson has been a man in demand since parting ways with Hawthorn at the end of last season, with Carlton making a pitch to convince him to lead the Blues before they chose Michael Voss.

The 54-year-old has been linked to multiple clubs but the Suns loom as the most logical option as long-time AFL strugglers but with loads of young talent.

“I spoke to him about six weeks ago and he said he thought he’d be missing it more,” Hodge told SEN on Saturday.

“He’s been to America a couple of times and said he’s not missing the match-day stuff at this stage.

“If a job pops up I reckon he will jump at it.

“I reckon he’d love to go to a club that hasn’t played finals before and push them up to finals and get them as high as he possibly could.

“I see a lot of similarities with Hawthorn (in the 2000s) and Gold Coast.

“He’s proved in the past he’s been able to mould and guide through relationships with younger players to get to the stage where they trust everything he says.

“I think for his reputation and what he could go down for, if he could go to a team like Gold Coast who haven’t played finals before and get them up there in two or three years, no doubt he would go down as one of the best (coaches) ever.”

The Suns have never played finals since entering the AFL in 2011, despite regularly being able to recruit the best young talent through the draft.

Gold Coast eased pressure on their coach, Hawthorn premiership hero Stuart Dew with an upset 14-point win against Sydney on Saturday to move to a 3-5 record this season.

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